What is Consent and Why It’s Important

Consent is an old concept that has been having a revival for the last few years, thanks to cultural shifts and changes to what is acceptable and what is not. We couldn’t be happier that such an important aspect of all relationships, and especially romantic ones, is getting attention.

What is consent?

Consent means agreeing to something with free will. It can be related to any area of our lives, but lately, it has been mostly associated with a sexual context. Giving consent to someone means explicitly agreeing to do something, like kissing or having oral sex, but also simple things, such as hugging and touching each other.

Why is consent important

Paying attention to consent in a relationship (regardless of whether it’s a one-night stand, a situationship, or a fully committed partnership) is important because it creates a safe space for everyone. It guarantees that whatever activities you engage in, everyone is happy to be a part of. This is a solid foundation for an open and trustful relationship that helps you connect with your partner on emotional and physical levels.
And besides, you wouldn’t want to make your love interest do something they’re not fully on board with, right?

Types of consent

There are several types of consent out there.
  • Verbal consent is anything that signifies agreement, for example, “Yes, Of course, I agree, I’d love to” – are all examples of verbal consent.
  • Nonverbal consent. This one is a bit trickier because it’s more open to interpretation. Nonverbal consent can be facial expressions, gestures, like nodding, and general body language, for example, giving a thumbs up.
  • Written consent, like when you’re signing an agreement or a contract. This could be Mr Gray asking Anastasia to sign a covenant not to sue before she enters the red room.
  • Implied consent, where your actions imply that you don’t mind certain situations or activities. Like when your crush invites you to Netflix and chill and you come over at 11 pm, it’s implied that you both won’t mind fooling around and hooking up.
  • Informed consent means the party fully understands what they’re signing up for and has all the information. For example, if someone has STDs, they must let the other person know about it before getting intimate.

What is not consent?

Although consent is a fairly simple concept, it is still often misconstrued. So let’s cover some basics and identify what consent is and what it isn’t.

Silence doesn’t automatically mean Yes

Sadly, many people have adopted the logic that if someone doesn’t actively say No, then they automatically say Yes. Needless to say, it’s not true and can be very harmful. There are thousands of reasons why someone wouldn’t feel comfortable declining a sexual advance, for example, but they won’t be able to voice it.

Coercion vs consent

You don't pressure someone into consent. That’s literally the opposite of what consent stands for. Coercion also looks different. It can be someone threatening you to do something, but it can also be done in a soft and almost gentle way. A boyfriend asking to take the next steps repeatedly until they tire their partner out is not them getting consent. It’s harassment.


People who are intoxicated with alcohol or other substances can’t give their full consent. No matter what we want to believe or tell ourselves, if someone’s unable to think clearly because they’re under the influence of the things they’ve taken, they cannot fully comprehend what they’re doing and, hence, are unable to consent to activities, sexual contact, or anything else. They should be left alone until they sober up. Period.


Similarly to intoxication, if a person has limited moving abilities or their mind is not clear because of a mental illness, engaging them in sexual activities or making them do something else is in no way consensual but rather it is an assault.

Pig in a poke

If the person doesn’t have all the information that they require to understand what they’re engaging in, consider it happening without consent from their side.

Assumed consent is not consent

The (sadly) so familiar situation to so many women is when a man approaches assuming the woman would like that because she is dressed a certain way. But no matter what someone chooses to believe, an outfit or makeup is not an invitation to touching or kissing.

Expired consent

If your booty call agreed to something funky in bed in the past, it doesn’t mean they’re automatically up for it today. We’re not saying you always have to ask your long-term partner if it’s okay for you to touch them and have sex with them. But it’s worth being mindful of the fact that just because someone did something last month, they won’t necessarily want to repeat the experience.

How to ask for consent

Communication is key. Ask the person directly if they understand and agree to what is about to happen. It might seem like a buzzkill if you’re on a first date and want to kiss the person next to you but trust us, it can be done in a soft and even sensual manner that doesn’t ruin the mood.
Here are a few tips from the Flure team’s book to help you out:
  • Be specific with what you’re asking their consent for. If you want to have sex with them, then the word “sex” or “sleep with me” has to be used.
  • Look for an active agreement. A lukewarm or passive Yes is more like a masqueraded No.
  • Don’t be pushy or aggressive. Remember that you don’t want to coerce someone into agreeing.
  • Watch out for power dynamics. Anyone vulnerable or with less power is more likely to give dubious consent. A boss asking their subordinate to go on a date is a perfect example of one party having more power than the other.
Here is how you can ask for consent:
  • Can I do this?
  • Are you okay with this?
  • How would you feel if I..?
  • I’d like to do this, would you be down for it?
Consent can be confusing, especially if you’ve not been exposed to it through sex education or personal experience. There are many nuances and gray areas, so if you’re feeling lost, it’s best to be safe than sorry. Ask for consent to get an affirmative verbal confirmation, and have fun together, knowing full and well that your consent is mutual. And remember – you can always change your mind.